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In Montana, any business operating under a fictitious name will need to register for a DBA. Learn more about what a DBA is, who needs one and how to register.
What is a DBA?
A DBA, also known as “Doing Business As”, Trade Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Name is a name used by a business, that is different from the legal name of the business. This name is often referred to as a Trade Name in Montana.
When a business wants to operate under a name other than their legal name, the state of Montana, like most states, require the business to register their business name. The registration requirement was designed to protect consumers from business owners hiding anonymously behind the name of a business.
Who needs to register?
The requirements and need to register for a Trade Name vary, depending on the type of business entity.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common entities to register for a DBA.
The legal name of a sole proprietor or partnership can be the owner’s full first and last name, which can be used without registering. For example, if John Smith starts a business repairing computers but doesn’t use a business name he doesn’t have to register. If John decides to name his business John’s Computer Repair then he will need to register.
Corporations and Limited Liability Companies won’t typically register a fictitious name since a unique entity name is created during the formation process. Some will file for a DBA if they have another business they want to operate under their corporate/LLC umbrella to keep the liability protection without having to form another entity.
Montana DBA Registration Form
How much does it cost to register?
The filing fee for registering an Assumed Name in Montana is $20.
Expedited processing is available. For an additional $20 the registration is processed in 24-hours, while an additional $100 will provide 1-hour processing.
Assumed names have to be renewed every five years.
What are the steps to file a DBA in Montana?
Step 1 – Verify Name Availability
The state of Montana requires business names to be distinguishable from other registered business names.
Step 2 – Fill out the Form
Information requested on the form includes:
- Name being registered
- Description of what the business does
- Date the name was first used
- Type of business entity
- Business mailing address
Step 3 – Submit the Form
Submit the filing fee and form. If mailing, send the form to:
Secretary of State
P.O. Box 202801
Helena, MT 59620-2801
DBAs can’t be registered using words that are related to banks, unless it is licenses to provide such services. Additionally, an Assumed Name can only use entity designators (such as corporation, LLC, etc) if the business is organized as that entity. For example, a sole proprietorship can’t use LLC in it’s Assumed Name.
Protecting your business name
While registering your Trade Name will keep someone else from registering the exact same name in Montana, it does very little from someone else operating a business under that name in other states. If stopping others from using your business name is important, you can protect it through a trademark – See how to protect your name through a trademark.
If you have questions about the process, contact the Secretary of State’s office at 406-444-3665.